Honey loading for pollen collection: regulation of crop content in honeybee pollen foragers on leaving hive.

Research paper by Ken-ichi K Harano, Akiko A Mitsuhata-Asai, Masami M Sasaki

Indexed on: 14 Jun '14Published on: 14 Jun '14Published in: The Science of Nature


Before foraging honeybees leave the hive, each bee loads its crop with some amount of honey "fuel" depending on the distance to the food source and foraging experience. For pollen collection, there is evidence that foragers carry additional honey as "glue" to build pollen loads. This study examines whether pollen foragers of the European honeybee Apis mellifera regulate the size of the crop load according to food-source distances upon leaving the hive and how foraging experience affects load regulation. The crop contents of bees foraging on crape myrtle Lagerstroemia indica, which has no nectary, were larger than those foraging on nectar from other sources, confirming a previous finding that pollen foragers carry glue in addition to fuel honey from the hive. Crop contents of both waggle dancers and dance followers showed a significant positive correlation with waggle-run durations. These results suggest that bees carry a distance-dependent amount of fuel honey in addition to a fixed amount of glue honey. Crop contents on leaving the hive were statistically larger in dancers than followers. Based on these results, we suggest that pollen foragers use information obtained through foraging experience to adjust crop contents on leaving the hive.